Plan to increase mobile pre-schools in NT 


A radical plan to increase the fleet of mobile pre-schools in the Northern Territory could address the crisis of Indigenous education, according to a top researcher.

Speaking at this week’s international population conference, Dr Nick McTurk, Research Associate with Charles Darwin University (CDU) said the provision of preschool through mobile teachers and locally trained co-ordinators was a favoured option of Federal and Territory governments.

His research is building on the strong correlation between education and health and the inter-generational effects of low levels of literacy on health outcomes.

This significant foundation work was recently undertaken via CDU’s School for Social Policy Research and Menzies School of Health Research. 

"An intense intervention is needed early in the lives of many Indigenous children to break the burdens of morbidity and low levels of life passed from generation to generation," he said.

The transient nature of many Indigenous people creates challenges for traditional education models.

Dr McTurk said his research aimed to develop strategies in sync with the social and cultural needs of Indigenous people.

"Education providers including the Northern Territory Government and CDU are recognising this and are taking a proactive look at what works for communities," he said.

"Exploring what form this early intervention should take and how it can be delivered in a socio-culturally appropriate way is crucial."

Dr McTurk is one of the prominent researchers tackling issues relevant to the Territory during the Australian Population Association 14th Biennial Conference, at the Alice Springs Convention Centre which runs from today (Monday June 30) until Thursday July 3.

More than 100 experts from CDU and across the globe are discussing issues surrounding demographic changes of the 21st Century with particular focus on Indigenous demography, policy responses to demographic change, and demography of Australia’s northern neighbours.